By MATT BLOIS
The Brentwood City Commission gave initial approval to some parking changes for churches at a meeting on Monday night.
The Commission voted in favor of a change that would allow churches to use more off-site parking. The City Commission will have to vote on the proposal a second time before it’s finalized.
Commissioners voted against a proposal that would have allowed churches to have a smaller landscaping buffer along Franklin Road.
Currently the city requires churches to have 60 percent of their parking on-site, while 20 percent of the parking can be off-site.
An additional 20 percent of parking can be held in reserve. This means a church needs to have space for parking but doesn’t need to build the parking spaces.
The new rule would allow churches to have 30 percent of their parking off-site. At least 50 percent of the parking spaces would still need to be on-site.
That change could help Brentwood United Methodist Church, which is hoping to expand. The proposed expansion would require additional parking under the current rules.
Several residents living close to the church expressed concern that a new parking lot would drive down property values.
The Methodist church already has parking agreements with nearby businesses, but not all of those spaces count toward the required minimum.
Increasing the amount of off-site parking will allow the church to count about 120 spaces that it already uses off-site. That means it could build a smaller parking lot than originally planned.
The church presented a plan for the expansion to the Planning Commission in October. The Commission delayed a decision because the City Commission was considering changes to the parking requirements.
The expansion plan for Brentwood United Methodist Church will likely be back on the Planning Commission agenda early next year.
The City Commission voted against a separate proposal that would have allowed churches on Franklin Road to use a smaller landscaping buffer.
The city’s code currently requires churches along Franklin Road to have a 150-foot buffer along Franklin Road. The proposal would have allowed the Planning Commission to reduce the buffer to 100 feet.
Commissioner Anne Dunn said that she opposed that change because she wanted to preserve the green space along Franklin Road.
“I think Franklin Road is a special corridor in our city,” she said. “I don’t want to take a hatchet to this right now.”
There are eight other churches along Franklin Road that could potentially have asked for a smaller buffer.